Texas Is Calling My Name

The Mexican government found itself dealing with two independence movements simultaneously.

Stephen Austin, Father of Texas

One cannot possibly think about the 1830s and Andrew Jackson’s presidency and not turn south for a moment to talk about Texas and the epic story of its independence.

Now, I admit that as a Tennessean, the stories of the Alamo, Goliad, and San Jacinto colored my childhood. I grew up with the tales of Davy Crockett, William B. Travis, and the courage displayed in the fight against General Santa Anna and the Mexican army. I listened as my grandfather spun remembrances of his great-grandmother Madewell and his Burden grandparents, along with a multitude of Gaddis cousins and more, who had trekked to Texas not long after independence to help forge a new state. In his stories, Texas always seemed to be the symbol of fearless freedom and a life carved from the edges of the frontier. I longed for more stories, so I read about Sam Houston and the Republic of Texas. The connection seemed real.

And I’m betting that the connection seemed real for many who reveled in the legacy of that war for independence and the men and women who forged a republic and then a state.

I like to think back to the days when Mexico won its independence from Spain and attempted to create the Republic of Mexico. Anxious to encourage immigration into the northern regions in the 1820s, the Mexican government encouraged “Anglo” settlements by disregarding certain taxes and tariffs and by allowing slaveholders to retain their slaves for labor. Moses and Stephen Austin, among others, received huge land grants and, within a few years, ranches and communities were springing up across Tejas and Coahuila — so much so that by the early 1830s, the Mexican government attempted to slow the immigration into the region by enforcing the tariffs and other laws, including an attempt to mandate the Roman Catholic faith.

The reaction was predictable.

At the first conflict, the Battle of Velasco, in June 1832, the Texans overwhelmed the Mexican forces, who then abandoned their northern garrisons. The Mexican government had found itself dealing with two independence movements simultaneously. General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna was leading a rebellion against President Anastasio Bustamante, and the Texans were demanding less control. General Santa Anna was successful in overthrowing the president, and the Texans encouraged the new leader to grant more autonomy to their region. By allowing the Texans to essentially rule themselves, Mexico would limit the troops and governmental officials that might ordinarily be required for the region.

Sounded like a good plan to the Texans, and in two conventions designed to draw up resolutions for governmental approval, the Texans proposed that there be no tariff, that their region become an independent province, and that immigration into the region remain unrestricted. The Mexico City response was to open immigration and ignore all the other requests. Stephen Austin, in a letter that was intercepted by Mexican authorities, encouraged the Texans to ignore Mexican control. He was arrested, jailed, and remained defiant during the 18 months of his imprisonment. His actions hinted at the general attitude of most Texans.

At the same time, General Santa Anna abandoned any pretense of ruling a republic and instead established a military dictatorship in Mexico by drafting what would later become known as the “Seven Laws.” His actions removed any doubt that he would use military force to suppress any attempts at independence and defiance.

And, in a short time, rebellion would occur.

When the Mexican military moved toward Gonzales to retake its arsenal, including a large cannon, previously given to the region as protection against Native American raids, the military encountered militiamen waiting for them at the Guadalupe River. In a moment that would be replayed in stories across Texas, the militia’s leader told the army to “come and take it,” and the Mexican forces retreated to San Antonio.

Skirmishes continued, and the Texans were victorious at Concepcion and in the “Grass Fight” west of San Antonio. Tightening control of the region, the Texans forced the Mexican army to retreat south of the Rio Grande.

Both sides knew another day of fighting was near.

Next week, we’ll gather at the Alamo mission, where we’ll meet Colonel William B. Travis and Colonel James Bowie.

Prepare for the fight of a lifetime.

Written by Linda Moss Mines for The Patriot Post ~ April 3, 2024

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